Pliskova Advances To Second Round At Australian Open

MELBOURNE, January 21, 2020 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)

The top-seeded women making their debuts in the 2020 Australian Open on Tuesday enjoyed a safe passage onto the second round.

The day began with the second-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova getting the better of France’s Kristina Mladenovic. Pliskova, who is defending semi-final points this year at the event, needed an hour and 24 minutes to win 6-1, 7-5. This was the fifth meeting between the duo and following this win, the 27-year-old took a slender 3-2 lead in their head-to-head.

“It definitely was a tough first round and a tough draw for me. In the end, I think it was a good test to start with such a high-quality match,” Pliskova, shared after winning. “I know Kiki very well, since we were both a young age, so I knew it was going to be tough. We had some good matches in the past. It was especially tough mentally in the second set, but I’m happy to be through.”

She will play German Laura Siegemund in the round-of-64. Siegemund defeated American wildcard Coco Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-4 in their opener.

Halep hops past stuttered start

2018 Australian Open finalist and fourth seed Simona Halep was at her resolute best against American Jennifer Brady. The Romanian, who is coming into Melbourne Park, after a quarter-final exit at the Adelaide International fell behind by a break twice in the opening set and also had an on-court fall. But she was the last player standing on the court after an hour and 36 minutes of play, with a 7-6(5), 6-1 victory to her name.

In her post-win conversation, Halep shared that she had adapted to her opponent’s game better in the second set which lead to the eventual outcome. “I think the second one I just found the rhythm a bit better, I tried to move her more because in the first set I just stayed in one corner. I was a bit stronger and the serve was better in the second set.”

Halep takes on British qualifier Heather Dart in the next round. Dart defeated Japan’s Misaki Doi 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(10) in their round-of-128 match.

Garbine Muguruza: Winning with a difference

On Court 3, Garbine Muguruza defeated Shelby Rogers from the United States 0-6, 6-1, 6-0  in one hour and 34 minutes.

“Today out there, well, it was a very tough performance because I wasn’t feeling at my best at all. But at the end I could manage to give my fight. Happy that I came back [after] that tough first set,” Muguruza admitted in her post-match presser.

She added, “It was a tough moment because, you know, [Rogers] was playing great. You’re not feeling well, you sometimes don’t know how to turn things around. You know, I said to myself, ‘Hey, you’re here, you’re on the court, you’re playing Australian Open, it’s a special moment, so just hang in there and keep fighting.’ At least she has to play very (well), the entire match. I stayed behind her. You know, today I won the battle.”

Muguruza plays Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia in the second round. Tomljanovic defeated the 31st seed from Latvia, Anastasija Sevastova 6-1, 6-1.

Other assorted results

Fifth seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine defeated Great Britain’s Katie Boulter 6-4, 7-5 in their first-round clash. Next up for Svitolina is the United States’ Lauren Davis. Davis took down Canadian qualifier Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 6-2.

Sixth-seeded Swiss Belinda Bencic defeated Slovakian Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-3. 7-5 in their opener. Bencic will play Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko in their second-round meeting. Ostapenko defeated qualifier Liudmila Samsonova of Russia, 6-1, 6-4.

2016 champion and 17th-seeded German Angelique Kerber, who played in the evening session, also reached the next round. The southpaw needed an hour and 22 minutes to defeat Italian qualifier Elisabetta Cocciaretto 6-2, 6-2. Kerber’s win puts her face-to-face with Australian wildcard Patricia Hon. Hon won against Kateryna Kozlova of Ukraine 6-3, 6-4.

Twelfth seed and British No. 1 Johanna Konta was among the biggest upset of the day. Tunisian Ons Jabeur got past Konta, a former Australian Open semi-finalist, 6-4, 6-2 in 63 minutes. Twenty-first seed Amanda Anisimova from the United States was also ousted in the first round. Kazakh player Zarina Diyas won against Anisimova 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in an hour and 46 minutes.

Jabeur and Diyas will play Caroline Garcia and Anna Blinkova respectively, in the second round.